One local couple has made a habit of volunteering with the group that saved both of their lives.
Plant City residents Bill and Debbie Ismer are both transplant recipients who have dedicated the last 20 years as LifeLink® ORGANizer volunteers dedicated to public education about organ, eye and tissue donation.
“Bill met Debbie in 1999 while Bill was in the hospital and in need of a heart transplant, and Debbie was a nurse on the transplant unit. By the time he left the hospital, he had a new heart, and had lost it…to Debbie, as they fell in love,” said Ashley Moore, manager of Public Affairs at LifeLink Foundation.
On the one-year anniversary of Bill’s heart transplant, they got married. Almost a decade later, Debbie, who had a hereditary condition impacting kidney function, was in kidney failure. She needed a kidney transplant and received one thanks to a living donation from a fellow Tampa General nurse and friend.
Bill feels that the donation he received not only saved his life but also enriched it.
“We have written many times to thank my donor family for upholding the wishes of their loved one for being an organ donor, which gave me life,” said Bill. “I will always believe from the time of the transplant, God had a plan for me with my transplant, including playing the portable keyboard for the patients, families and staff at TGH. If ever able, I would tell my donor family that I’ve been living for two people and he’s the best part of me.”
Over the years Bill and Debbie have shared their stories and supported donation education.
“My entire adult life I have cherished my time volunteering with LifeLink,” said Debbie. “I’m honored to help in any way.”
LifeLink of Florida is the federally designated, nonprofit community service organization dedicated to the recovery of organs and tissues for transplantation in West and Southwest Florida. LifeLink can be of assistance with scheduling virtual interviews or webinar presentations to media outlets, local schools, civic groups and businesses on the importance of donations.
For more information on LifeLink, or to register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.LifeLinkFoundation.org.